A mouthful of a musical, and spectacular

A mouthful of a musical, and spectacular
“Buruguduystunstugundstuy” promo material

“Buruguduystunstugundstuy” is quite a mouthful of a musical. With a title like that, the audience expects something beyond the usual fare. 

The creators of “Buruguduystunstugunstuy” promised a wild ride—an “acid trip,” as director Dexter Santos described it. They did not disappoint. They delivered as they promised. 

Using songs of the popular band Parokya ni Edgar, renowned playwright Rody Vera crafted the story of four women who, by some unexplained circumstance brought by the sound of a beating drum, find themselves together in an alt universe called Parokya,  

In Parokya, the women—Aiza, a limp high school student bullied by her male classmates (Kyle Napuli); Jen, a scavenger who is tired of being poor (Marynor Madamesila), Girlie, a security guard (Natasha Cabrera); and Norma, an “englishing” matron (Tex Ordonez de Leon)—find their individual strengths. They meet Tito Ralph (Jasper Jimenez), Mang Jose (Nicco Manalo), and the Bigotilyos led by Mr. Suave (Pepe Herrera). Noel Comia plays Tikmol, brother to Jen. 

These names, it is said, are names found in Parokya ni Edgar songs. 

The women are transported to the Parokya through a “portalet” (“portal na maliit”—sigh, a joke explained) at exactly 4:20, and the visual roller coaster sensory experience commences with costumes in psychedelic colors (by Raven Ong), lights design (by Monino Duque) and multi-video projection (by GA Fallerme and Joyce Garcia), transforming the set (by Lawyn Cruz) into an alt universe only those who understand the allusion to 420 can enter.

Parokya can very well be this production’s version of the Emerald City, but instead of a Dorothy who wants to go home, we have four characters who want to escape their realities. If the Scarecrow found a brain, the Cowardly Lion found courage, and the Tin Woodman found compassion, “Buruguduystunstugunstuy” has Norma learning to love again, Jen to rise above her situation, Aiza to stand on her own, and Girlie to become Edgar. 

Oh, there is even a dog, not quite like Toto but trained, and can almost act, reaping huge applause during the curtain call. 


Dexter Santos is a most-sought-after theater director who helmed the highly successful “Ang Huling El Bimbo” (also staged at the Newport Performing Arts Theater). But aside from musical theater, Santos was also behind the political drama “The Reconciliation Dinner” and is currently directing “Grace,” his nth collaboration with another noted playwright, the recently departed Floy Quintos. 

Completing Santos’ team were his “regulars”—Stephen Vinas, choreographer; Ejay Yatco, musical director and arranger; and Arvy Dimaculangan, sound designer. The music from the 14-piece orchestra conducted by Mickey Jacinto almost completed the sensory experience.

Almost, because there was the cast to embrace and embody every aesthetic device that the creative and technical teams could offer. It is fortunate that Philippine theater has a wide bench of musical theater actors because there are two other musicals running (“Rent” and “One More Chance”) and another to open soon (“Bar Boys”). Yet, in “Buruguduystunstugundstuy,” the right actors are cast for the right part. 

Tex Ordonez soared (quite literally in the show), and Pepe Herrera was Mr. Suave to the last detail. Kyle, Marynor and Natasha held their own and had their big moments. Nicco Manalo, covered in a mascot-y costume and makeup as Mang Jose, proved he has the gravitas to stand out in crowd scenes. Boo Gabunada and Jules dela Paz, along with Jasper Jimenez and MC dela Cruz, were equally entertaining in their over-the-top acting. Noel Comia, my companion said, is Philippine theater’s answer to Tom Holland. 

And the ensemble? It is not easy being part of a cast of 47, 35 of whom are simultaneously onstage. The commitment, energy and precision they displayed reflected the passion required of an actor who does not want the audience to be disappointed.

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